Musical Elective of the Week

July 17, 2008 | Blog

The Musical Elective of the Week is Great Big Sea.

Great Big Sea [web site] is a band that hails from Canada — our neighbor to the north — specifically, St. John’s, Newfoundland. It originally formed in 1993, securing its first album contract in 1995, and just released its ninth studio album, Fortune’s Favour, in June 2008.

GBS is probably best described as a folk-rock outfit, but also plays traditional tunes from its Irish, English and French heritage and incorporates many such melodies into its original songs. Band members — including Alan Doyle, Sean McCann, and Bob Hallett — also play a variety of instruments, including the guitar, accordion, bagpipes, bodhran, fiddle, mandolin and tin whistle. The band describes its music this way: “Our songs come from the sea and the cliffs and the rocks and all the other natural beauties our country provides. Without her we simply couldn’t exist.”

Overall, my favorite Great Big Sea album in 2002’s Sea of No Cares. It includes the title track as well as the single “Clearest Indication” as well as a mix of traditional songs such as “Yarmouth Town” and “Own True Way.” My other favorite Great Big Sea songs include “Ordinary Day” from 1997’s Play (and 1998’s U.S.-only Rant and Roar), “Consequence Free” from 1999’s Turn, and “Shines Right Through Me” from 2004’s Something Beautiful.

GBS is known and has gained a following as much for its raucous live shows as for its catchy singles from its nine studio albums. If you want to catch the wave, check out (with a Canadian pronunciation, please) Great Big Sea’s tour schedule. For you local Madison readers, GBS is coming to the Majestic Theatre on September 11th, and for those of you trapped inside the Beltway during the hot DC summer, my sympathies. Get on out to Wolf Trap on August 22nd to see GBS. The rest of you need to do your own homework!

I could really use to lose my Catholic conscience
Cuz I’m getting sick of feeling guilty all the time
I won’t abuse it, yeah I’ve got the best intentions

For a little bit of anarchy but not the hurting kind

–“Consequence Free” from Turn (2000)

Extra Credit–Past Musical Electives of the Week:

Griffin House
Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer
Neil Finn
Ray LaMontagne
Stuart Stotts
Dan Wilson
Kathleen Edwards


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